Friday, January 20, 2012

New Guidance on School Anti-Discrimination Laws

Yesterday, the US Department of Education issued new guidance on how the 2008 Amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act impact the reach of Section 504, which is the law that requires that students with disabilities be provided with reasonable accommodations.

This new guidance states that a student need not have a problem with the "major life activity" of learning; substantial impairment of any of a whole host of major life activities is sufficient to establish that a student has a disability under Section 504. The guidance also confirms that, for a student with an episodic illness, if it would be disabling when flaring, it's considered a disability under Section 504 at all times.

In addition, the guidance makes clear that, even if the student doesn't need special education and related services, the school may have to provide accommodations -- use of an elevator for a student with a lung disease; the ability to make up assignments without penalty if a student has missed a lot of school; and so on.

In other words, we were right all along about what we've been saying to school districts. Now, we have additional ammunition to prove it. Jennifer

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